Making of, Commentary, Interview, 16 page booklet, Trailer
When as a child Jacky Vanmarsenille (played by Matthias Schoenaerts) is brutally attacked, the injury is one that changes his entire life. With having to inject himself with hormones and steroids his entire life, Jacky becomes a distant, cold, and angry adult. Growing up to take over his fathers cattle farm, Jacky has become a cattle farmer that injects his livestock with steroids and hormones to get them to grow bigger and fatter in a quicker amount of time. After he makes a deal with a meat trader that’s also part of the mafia, Jacky finds himself caught up in a murder investigation of a police officer. Everything for Jacky starts to take a dramatic turn for the worse as cops start to look into his dealings while Jacky’s past life comes back into his life causing him even more stress and dismay.
When I first held this Blu Ray in my hand, seeing the cover made me think that the movie was going to be about a boxer. I’m not one to read the back covers until either after the movie or like in this instance, where I think one thing before watching but find out while watching what I thought was wrong so I will read the official description on the back case cover. Once I did that I realized that Bullhead was a movie about a cattle farmer that’s always hoped up on steroids making a deal with the mafia that leads to him being a part of a murder investigation. Which led me to think that I knew where this movie was going to go but again I was wrong in my assumption of this movie.
Bullhead was interesting to watch, even though I had to rewind it a few times to be able to read the English caption because they would cycle through a little too quickly. Most of the movie is spoken in Limbergish, which I have no clue about, but it seems to made the pacing the captions to be a little quick to be able to keep pace with what was actually being said by the cast. Though this does not hurt or hinder the film in any way, in fact I think I enjoyed the movie more because it was in another language, it gives the movie a more authentic feel to it as I watched these characters doing shady deals while trying to make a living off of cattle farming. But as I was saying, the plot of the movie does have some surprises in it that I didn’t ever expect to be seeing. The main plot points are similar to other movies, where the farmer is doing shady deals to gain more or quicker profits, what’s different in this plot though is the reason why the character Jacky is the way he is and why he is always injecting himself with Steroids. When I first saw the character Jacky I didn’t feel any sympathy for him and I sure didn’t want him to actually be having everything go right for him but once I learned his history and why he did what he did, I actually found myself feeling sorry for him.
This movie was put together very well, from the cast to the way the scenes where shot, it’s all good. Matthias Schoenaerts does an excellent job in his portrayal of his character Jacky, making the man a mentally and physically scarred human being that has had a very unkind life forced upon him. This character is bursting with rage because of the drugs he’s been injecting himself with so he can get more muscle mass but it’s also turning him into this anger person that can’t control his outbursts. It’s a tragic story with good acting, a good plot with some twists to it, but it’s the cinematography that makes this movie look so good. I’ve never seen the lands Belgium before but the way they are shown in Bullhead makes me want to, well at least most of them. Even when the scene is one of a dirty truck stop or the grime of the cattle farm, the way the scenes where shot tells more than the dialog does. This whole film is shot where it makes you follow along as if you were a part of the scene. One in particular where the scene shows a winding staircase was shot so well that it made me a little dizzy from watching, it was almost as if I were standing at the bottom looking up.
What I think I liked while at the same time didn’t, was the fact that it took a little while to get the story of Jacky and why he’s the adult he is. Typically the flashback story is told a little sooner than it is done in Bullhead, if it had been done sooner to the start of the movie I wouldn’t have already formed my feelings for the character of Jacky. But because the flashback that does give me the reason of why Jacky is such a raging, angry, steroid pumping man makes me rethink pretty much everything I had already formed of the movie and the character. In a sense, because the flashback is done so late the movie takes on a second act where it almost becomes another movie from the one that I had been watching.
What I didn’t like about the movie is how a stolen car plays into the murder investigation. I kept trying to follow what was being said and why it was being done but I really couldn’t figure out why the car ended up where it did, why the tires were such a big deal, and why the guys that got it really fit into the story. This part of the movie felt like it was put in to give the plot more substance but all it did was make it confusing and hard to follow. Bullhead would have been fine without the plot of the car put in it because the plot of a cattle farmer trying to cope with his physical deformity while having his past come back to haunt him would have been enough.
BLU RAY BULLHEAD:
Rounding out this very entertaining film with it’s excellent cinematography is the look of the Blu Ray. This movie was shot on film and then transferred over to digital, which gives it some depth, even with the darker scenes the picture quality is good. What I liked the most though was how they have given the movie a darker look to it where the colors are not quite as vibrant and bright like most Blu Rays. This filtered look of the movie makes it seem more real while giving it a dirty feel than if it had been brighter with popping colors and bright lights. It’s audio levels are at a decent level, being 5.1 DTS-HD Dolby Digital, I didn’t expect it the levels to be low. Though it really didn’t matter since I was reading the subtitles and not really paying attention to the actual dialog being spoken. Plus with very little other sounds being used in this movie, the audio hardly plays much of a factor in it. I think I would have enjoyed it about the same even if I had the volume on mute.